The meeting of Jewish oligarchs Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson at the Israeli-American Council has attracted considerable comment. Obviously, it’s another illustration of the power of a minuscule number of very wealthy individuals to influence the political process. And since Adelson is partial to Republicans to the tune of $150 million in the last election (more to come) while Saban donates to the Democrats (substantially less [after all, he’s only worth 3.4 billion], but certainly not to be ignored), both parties are quite prone to doing their bidding. The Israel Lobby is nothing if not bi-partisan.
As Justin Raimondo noted, “Oh, it was quite a party, as the two philanthropists did their best to conform to every caricature out of the anti-Semites’ playbook” (“Oligarchs for Israel“).
(Isn’t it amazing that if one listens to activists on the left, such as MoveOn.org [originally funded by Jewish megadonors of the left, George Soros, Peter B. Lewis, and Linda Pritzker], one would think that the only wealthy individuals involved in U.S. politics are the safely non-Jewish Koch brothers?)
In the paranoid world of pro-Israel fanatics, even the New York Times and Washington Post are insufficiently pro-Israel. Scott McConnell in The American Conservative:
The two naturally agreed that the American media was terribly biased against Israel, except for maybe Fox News, and they discussed whether they could buy the Washington Post or New York Times to correct the problem. This aspect of the performance was comic, the lament, commonplace enough among neoconservatives, that the American press is biased against Israel. Consider that the Washington Post runs (the Wall Street Journal aside), the most neoconservative major editorial page in the country, and it’s been a long time since someone that one can even conceive of being slightly sympathetic to those subjected to Israeli occupation (perhaps the late Mary McGrory?) has written there. TheTimes is more diverse and makes occasionally sincere efforts at both balance and objective journalism, but if one looks at the roster of Times-men who regularly cover Israel, one could conclude that having a child serving in the IDF is a job requirement.
Sheldon and Haim then amused themselves and their audience by talking about taking over the Times and Washington Post.
And while Israel is obviously their number one issue, both are quite on board with the transformation of America via massive non-White immigration, while at the same time they (like the rest of the organized Jewish community throughout the West) are quite opposed to non-Jewish immigration to Israel. As Janet McMahon notes, writing for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, “For Adelson, Saban and their fellow travelers, what’s good enough for the U.S. simply doesn’t cut it for Israel.”
That’s all obvious and to be expected. A bit edgier was Saban’s comment that “if Israel doesn’t like the Iran-western nuclear deal, it should “bomb the daylight out of the sons of bitches.” The fact that Saban is the major financial force behind Hillary Clinton should worry all Americans going into the 2016 election.
But what made people pay attention was Adelson’s comment on the non-necessity of Israeli democracy. Raimondo:
As the conversation got around to Israel’s domestic problems, Adelson upped the ante, declaring that there is no Palestinian problem because there are no Palestinians: they are, he said, “an invented people.” Yes, yes you’re right, averred Saban, but we still need a two-state solution because Israel must preserve its identity as a democratic Jewish state. Here was Adelson’s chance to win the contest, and he took it:
“I don’t think the Bible says anything about democracy. I think God didn’t say anything about democracy. God talked about all the good things in life. He didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state, otherwise Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what?”
Both Saban and Adelson are motivated by the best of Jewish intentions — maintaining Israel’s Jewish identity. Saban’s problem is that he seems to think that Israel needs to conform to Western standards of political organization, something the more radical Adelson eschews. Adelson’s statement was greeted with horror by the pro-Israel hasbara apparatus (e.g., the ADL). After all, the constant refrain of pro-Israel propaganda in the West is that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. However, as Peter Beinart notes, quite a few prominent Israelis are quite willing to jettison any semblance of democracy if it conflicts with their perception of Jewish interests:
By claiming democracy doesn’t matter, Adelson was sabotaging the case for Israel that the American Jewish establishment has been making for decades. … Far from apologizing for that control [of the occupied territories], or seeking to undo it, Israel’s current government is making it permanent. And the Israeli leaders most committed to the settlement project freely acknowledge that for them, democracy is not the highest value. In the words of Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, “The State of Israel was created for the Jewish people, and its democracy is supposed to serve the Jewish people. If this state acts against the interests of the Jewish people, there is no longer any point in its existence, be it democratic or not.”
For years now, the American Jewish establishment has been laundering Israel’s behavior for American consumption: Justifying Israel’s undemocratic settlement policies in the soothing language of democratic values. But right-wingers like Adelson increasingly refuse to play along. Claiming you cherish Israeli democracy, after all, requires claiming that the West Bank Palestinians who Israel currently controls should one day have a state of their own. Since the American Jewish right sees that as both dangerous to Israeli security and an affront to God, it is challenging the American Jewish establishment by bluntly advocating a one-state solution in which millions of Palestinians are permanently disenfranchised, democracy be damned.
Feiglin’s views are another example of Jewish moral particularlism: The acid test for a policy is not conformity to a universal ideal, but to group interests. Further, democracy, which has deep roots in the West, particularly since Enlightenment — now more in lip service than in practice (see below) — is alien to the Jewish religious/political tradition. Traditional Jewish groups were authoritarian, led by charismatic rabbis with life-and-death power over their followers. For example, the numerically predominant Hasidic Jewish groups in nineteenth-century Eastern Europe formed the wellspring of Jewish population increase well into the twentieth century.
The Hasidim had an attitude of absolute faith in the person of the zaddic, their rebbe, who was a charismatic figure seen by his followers literally as the personification of God in the world. Attraction to charismatic leaders is a fundamental feature of Jewish social organization—apparent as much among religious fundamentalists as among Jewish political radicals or elite Jewish intellectuals. [see Culture of Critique, Chapter 6, p. 228ff] …
These groups were highly authoritarian—another fundamental feature of Jewish social organization.32 Rabbis and other elite members of the community had extraordinary power over other Jews in traditional societies—literally the power of life and death. Jews who informed the authorities about the illegal activities of other Jews were liquidated on orders of secret rabbinical courts, with no opportunity to defend themselves. Jews accused of heretical religious views were beaten or murdered. Their books were burned or buried in cemeteries. When a heretic died, his body was beaten by a special burial committee, placed in a cart filled with dung, and deposited outside the Jewish cemetery. In places where the authorities were lax, there were often pitched battles between different Jewish sects, often over trivial religious points such as what kind of shoes a person should wear. In 1838 the governor of southwestern Russia issued a directive that the police keep tabs on synagogues because “Very often something happens that leaves dead Jews in its wake.”33 Synagogues had jails near the entrance, and prisoners were physically abused by the congregation as they filed in for services. (“Zionism and the Internal Dynamics of Judaism“)
If indeed the Palestinian population became a nuisance in Israeli elections, Israel would simply abolish democracy. As always, Jewish interests are the only issue, not abstract ideals much beloved by Western elites.
The idea that Western societies are democracies is an illusion. In fact, an oligarchic model fits U.S. politics much better than a democratic model (see Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page in Perspectives on Politics, Sept. 2014, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens“).
The problem is that, unlike Israel, the U.S. is dominated by a hostile elite that systematically opposes the interests of its majority. Adelson, Saban, and the many foundations on the left that have lavishly funded open border policies for the U.S. that are not in the interests of the White majority of America or desired by them are certainly exemplars of oligarchy in action. The Israel Lobby is another example where policy is determined by a small minority with access to the elite media and the political process. Remember that when there are calls for American military adventures on behalf of spreading democracy to other parts of the world.